We are into the development process for IP.Board 3.2 and wanted to share some general expectations for this release. First of all it won't be out for several months so don't start asking about release dates now :)
In addition to the obvious enhancements to make the software work better, faster, and smarter we are focusing our development toward three key goals:
- Community Promotion
- Front-end Usability
Let's quickly talk about each of these three goals and what you can expect from IP.Board 3.2. We are dealing with a successful and widely used platform so we do not intend on making sweeping changes but instead picking individual features and areas of our software platform and working to improve them with an eye toward the three goals. For the purpose of this blog entry we are not going to get into specific features planned as you will start seeing blog entries on specific entries starting in early February.
One could argue that this is the most important goal of IP.Board 3.2 in that our key focus is to help you promote your community and help it grow. Small things like a more streamlined registration process, more attractive emails sent to your users, and core features like view new content or SEO improved. These changes all add up to a community that is more inviting to new users and quicker and easier for new users to register and start participating.
As the web evolves so must software like IP.Board that is designed to be a showcase software for the ever-growing presence of online communities. To that end, we will be working on modernizing the default skin that comes with IP.Board. The goals of this redesign are to create a default skin that is clearly updated and modernized without completely scrapping all the great elements we have today. This means that, although skins on 3.1 and below will not work on 3.2, the update process for those older skins will not require a 100% rewrite as many elements will be shared between the old and new versions. To put it another way: version 3.2 will be cleaner, more modern, and slicker but it will still clearly be IP.Board.
In addition to purely cosmetic updates we will also be putting great effort into general usability. Small changes like rewording the name of a button or moving a control to a new area make a world of difference for your member's usability and will encourage them to stick around and participate in your community.
There are many features and settings in our software that made sense years ago but today are antiquated, redundant, or simply pointless. We will be evaluating all the various settings in IP.Board to streamline the management of your community. One example is the Question and Answers settings for the registration page. There is a setting to enable this and then a whole separate page to configure the actual questions and answers. Why have both? We can remove the redundant setting without getting rid of any functionality. This is just one example of dozens of settings areas we can streamline without sacrificing functionality.
We are also going to be removing some select features that are a bit antiquated. Specifically the linear+ and outline views will be removed in IP.Board 3.2 as these two functions are relics of the beginning of the Internet and have really outlived their use. We realize a handful of clients may use these features but the vast majority do not.
And speaking of antiquated we will also be putting great effort into areas like the calendar and user profiles to make every part of our software modern and updated.
Of course this is a high-level summary of what to expect from IP.Board 3.2 but everyone at IPS is very excited about our plans for IP.Board 3.2 and cannot wait to show you specifics! Look for frequent blog entries starting in early February to present new features and enhancements. As is always our policy, IPS does not release specific roadmaps but instead posts blog entries about new features once they are completely finished and will definitely be in the next version.